The Cayman Chapter of the Northern Caribbean University (NCU) Alumni Association has announced a public meeting on Thursday, 19 November, to solicit input on a community education initiative slated for 2016. The initiative is being spearheaded by the Cayman Chapter (ACKy) as part of its agenda aimed at strengthening the Cayman community.
All interested members of the public, as well as all friends and alumni of NCU, are invited to attend the public meeting, at which Mrs. Janet Walters, director of NCU’s Community Counselling and Restorative Justice Centre (CCRJC), the developers of the programmes under consideration, will be presenting. The November 19 public meeting will be held at Cayman Academy, Walkers Road.
NCU is the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s flagship institution of higher education administered in Mandeville, Jamaica. Jointly owned by Adventists in Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, and the Bahamas, NCU serves the higher educational needs of the north-western Caribbean. The CCRJC is the community outreach arm of the NCU, which offers variations of the programme in Jamaica and member countries.
A key anticipated outcome of the 19 November and other planned meetings is the prioritizing of three different skills training exercises to respond to needs identified by the local chapter’s executive committee. The seminars, one or more of which may initially be selected for implementation next year, will target, respectively, parents, youth, and/or young fathers/young men. The seminars vary in length, but most involve six or eight sessions of two hours each.
While here Mrs. Walters will participate in other meetings and talks, including a service at one of the Adventist churches on Saturday afternoon (21 November), to which members of all Adventist churches and other interested persons are invited. Church members and other guests will have an opportunity to have an input at that meeting, also.
Commenting on the plans, ACKy President Patricia Ebanks said that her committee is excited about launching this first project in connection with the chapter’s goals. But much more so, she said, the committee is elated at the prospect of filling needs in the Cayman community and ultimately transforming lives.
Director Walters says the training programmes are collectively aimed at achieving better informed and skilled parents; building stronger, more supportive, responsible families; improving parental effectiveness; reducing teenage pregnancies and abuse and neglect of children and youth; and developing stronger sense of self and a greater commitment towards self-development. The programmes are also designed to help decrease the number of “at-risk” youth and the resulting teenage delinquency and crime rates.
Billed by the CCRJC as “empowerment programmes,” these training seminars have been conducted since 2010 by the nine-year-old community counselling centre. So far, the centre, which has attracted funding for its community outreach programmes from such financial powerhouses as the World Bank, has trained over 1,200 children, youth, young father/young men and parents. According to the CCRJC, 95% of participants gave positive feedback and commended the centre for reaching out in the communities.
At the 19 November public meeting, attendees will learn about the effectiveness of community intervention programmes such as those offered by the CCRJC and details of the three identified programmes. The presenter is also expected to demonstrate some of the skills and the way in which they are imparted in the seminars. The meeting will end with a question-and-answer period, in which attendees will have an opportunity to participate in programme selection and otherwise provide feedback.
Mrs. Walters has been a practising counsellor for over six years. She holds an MSc degree in counselling psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family. Presently, she is pursuing a doctoral degree in counselling psychology with the same emphasis. Mrs. Walters also holds a BSc in counselling with the emphasis in financial counselling and has spent 30 years in the banking sector.
ACKy’s President Ebanks said that the community outreach programmes are in partial fulfilment of ACKy’s three-pronged agenda, which includes offering scholarships to qualified local students and contributing financially to NCU.
She said that she had already held planning meetings with the Adventist Conference directors and that her committee would be approaching interested private sector sponsors to assist with next year’s implementation.